Whereas Brett, of Mom, the Wolf Man and Me, had to adjust to the marriage of her single mother, Nell faces the prospect of her parents' divorce -- and of living with her father, a freelance writer, while Mom lives in the country with a friend, Greta, and works at a full-time job. Although Nell worries about how her six year-old brother Hugo will adjust to Mom's absence and feels apprehension at the prospect of Dad's marrying helpless, whispery Arden, Nell never ""takes sides."" In fact, for all her confusion, Nell often seems more mature and capable than either her nervous, somewhat compulsive Dad (who breaks up with Arden, only to suffer a heart attack) or her Mother, who struggles with bouts of depression. Nell takes in stride her first kiss and the sometimes overbearing companionship of her redoubtable, self-confident friend, Heather; her conversations with her parents (both unusually sympathetic, intelligent people) are unconventionally candid and her observations -- on love and illusion in Cries and Whispers, on Heather's always busy family, on phobia-prone Arden -- are acute and original. Nell's awareness of adult problems is certainly precocious, but it does provide an unusual perspective on parents as human beings. And though Nell never reveals as much of herself as she notices in others, she is a warm and insightful companion.